Bang! Just one ordinary tire poppin’. Living near the highway, tires screeching and the sound of a tire that just got flat have been ordinary for us. I decided to sleep again; I have only slept for an hour or two.
Just before I can doze off, I heard another sound. Bang, bang,bang! This is no ordinary tire. This is something else. “Ma?”, I cried. “Get up! Get up! Fire!”, mom screamed. I jumped to my feet and opened the window. There it is, right in front of me. Electrical cables on fire. The rest of the cables, probably from a telecomm company are starting to catch fire as well. Sparks outside, just like fireworks.
Panic. My mom screamed at my sister. I ordered them to get out. Still confused, they obliged. All of us just wearing shorts and sando. I ran back to the room to get my phone. Just when I reached the ground floor, I realized I’m not wearing slippers. I stopped by to get the first 3 pairs I can get.
My cousin, living next door, got out about the same time as we did. We were frozen at the gate, confused on how we will be crossing the street to avoid the flames. Sparks are still coming from the wires above us, it’s raining hot splinters. I distributed the footwear to my mom and sister. Mom told me she already has one, so I gave the other to my cousin. Her family, as it appears, got out immediately and they were not able to grab slippers.
"Pagbilang ko ng tatlo, tumakbo tayo sa kabila", mom shouted. Mom ran but halfway through she realized nobody ran with her. She ran back. "Sabi ko sa inyo tumakbo!", she said. She grabbed my sister and niece by the arm and ran across the street. Then I started to panic. I remembered that right next to the house, stood an electrical post with a transformer. Shoot. If the fire catches the post, I’m thinking that the transformer will explode, and there will be less chances of surviving. "Saan ako tatakbo? Left o right?", at the top of my lungs, I asked. Nobody answered. "Shit." I grabbed my nephew’s arm and ran. Our heartbeats racing, the only thing we can do is watch and see if the fire catches the house.
Still shocked, mom ran to my aunt’s house to borrow a phone. I tried calling emergency hotline using my phone but failed. Curse the messages and promos that consume credits even if you have not subscribed for anything. I regret not having spare credits when all I have to do is access my online banking account and top up.
Mom gave me my aunt’s phone to dial the hotline. “Dial mo 911!”, she told me. “What? 911? Sa US lang yun Ma!” I tried not to smile. “Hindi! Nakatawag na ko dun dati!”, she insisted. “Oookay.”, shrugging off her suggestion to dial 911, I dialed 117 then handed the phone back to her.
So mom talked with the 117 operator and guess what the operator said. “Maam, sa Manila lang po ito”, then the operator hung up.
"Ha?!" I shouted. "Anong sa Manila lang? Ano pang silbi ng hotline na yan? Kung ayaw nya tayong tulungan, sabihin mo ma ibigay nya yung number ng emergency hotline dito o i-connect nya tayo dun."
I dialed the number again and gave the phone back to mom. If I took the call, I may have been one nagging irate caller. Luckily, the next operator has sense. She connected us to the proper department.
After 30 minutes of waiting, policemen from the nearby checkpoint arrived. We were not able to get hold of Meralco’s 24/7 assistance so we tried reaching the local number, but it is only active on office hours. The policemen checked the burning wires then went to fetch somebody, I don’t know if they fetched Meralco or BFP.
Right next to our house is a tree. Wires are passing between the tree’s branches, so we are worried it might catch fire as well. If the tree will be on fire, then the house will definitely be burned down to ashes. My sister is still crying while praying. Firemen has not arrived yet, so I went inside my aunt’s house to get a pail of water. I asked the neighbors to splash the fire with water. My mistake. Fires caused by electricity, as people said, should not be tried to be put out by using just water. The fire worsened.
Finally, the firemen came. They hesitated on using just water to out out the fire. Since only the wires were on fire and they probably feared that if they did not out out the fire immediately, it may spread towards the house. They were able to take out the fire after a few minutes.
Then came people from Meralco. They turned the power off first, then called for back up to cut the burnt wires. Apparently, some wires has fiber glass, thus the flaming splinters.
We are safe now. We went back to the house to see if there are any damages. None.
I noticed burns on my mom’s shoulder. She told me she got that when she came back to grab my sister’s arm. Burns caused by the splinters.
Because of that incident, we decided to move. It’s never safe to live near the highway anyway.
I’m still having difficulties sleeping. Even thunder scares me, afraid that the house will be struck and be on fire.